Economic Hardship

Employment Due to Economic Hardship
  1. Severe Economic Hardship Employment for F-1 Students
    • Overview
    • Eligibility Criteria
    • Required Documents 
    • How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship Employment
    • Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Application to USCIS
    • Employment Authorization Card
    • Overview

      For F-1 students facing financial challenges due to circumstances beyond their control, there exists a provision for seeking employment authorization grounded in severe economic hardship. Eligibility for this provision requires that the student has encountered sudden financial difficulties through no fault of their own. These difficulties can arise from several situations, such as the unforeseen loss of scholarships, grants, or on-campus employment opportunities. Other qualifying conditions may include significant fluctuations in currency value or exchange rates, unexpected hikes in tuition and/or living expenses, sudden changes in the financial stability of the student’s sponsor, medical expenditures, or other unforeseen and substantial financial burdens. This pathway is designed to offer relief when other employment options are either unavailable or insufficient to meet the financial needs brought about by these unexpected circumstances.
    • The Eligibility Criteria for Economic Hardship Employment are as follows:

      • You must have maintained F-1 status for at least one full academic year.
      • You must currently in good academic standing, enrolled in a full course load.
      • The employment you seek will not disrupt your academic studies.
      • You must provide evidence that the employment is essential to alleviate severe economic hardship resulting from unexpected economic circumstances beyond your control.
    • Required Documents for Severe Economic Hardship Employment Application:

      Make sure you have the following documents ready for Severe Economic Hardship Employment Application:
      1. Severe Economic Hardship Request Form.
      2. Personal Statement: Detailing the unforeseen hardship situation with possible supporting documentation such as news articles, letters from home indicating family circumstances changes, or evidence of currency devaluation.
      3. Completed Form I-765: with code (C)(3)(iii) at item 27. Do not date until ready to submit to USCIS.
      4. Copies of I-20s: Current and previous.
      5. Copy of Form I-94: Paper or electronic print-out. (Please select Most Recent I-94).
      6. Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable.
      7. Copy of your unofficial transcript.

    • How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship Employment:
    1. Fill out the  Sever Economic Hardship Eligibility Screening Form on our virtual office assistant page.
    2. Email the remaining required documents mentioned above to
    3. Document Review by Queens College International Advisor: The Queens College International Advisor will review your submitted documents.
    4. Generation and Receipt of New SEVIS I-20: If approved, you will receive a new SEVIS I-20 with a recommendation on page 2 via email.
    5.  Review and Sign New SEVIS I-20: Thoroughly review all information on the new SEVIS I-20 and sign your name on the designated section.
    6. Submission to USCIS: Follow the instructions outlined in the “Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Request Application to USCIS” section below for sending your request to USCIS.


Mailing the Economic Hardship Application to USCIS

Once you have requested a Severe Economic Hardship Employment recommendation and received your new I-20 from the Queens College International students and Scholars office , you will need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS:

Enclose the following items:

  1. A copy of the new I-20 with employment recommendation
  2. Copies of your previous I-20(s)
  3. Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94
  4. Copy of your passport page showing your biographical information and the expiration date
  5. Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
  6. Check or money order. please visit USCIS’s I-765 Filing Fee Page.
    Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old. Put photos in an envelope. You should attach the fee and the photo envelope on top of the entire application (on the upper left-hand corner). Please do not staple the fee and the photos.
  7. Personal statement and supporting documents.

Mailing to USCIS

USCIS Chicago Lockbox

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: I-765 C03 (Box 805373)
131 South Dearborn – 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Make a copy of the application before mailing it.
Send the envelope via certified mail with return receipt.


You can check your case status s of your I-765 application online through the USCIS website using your receipt number. It’s a good practice to periodically check your application status and keep an eye out for any communications from USCIS.
If you experience significant delays or have concerns, consider reaching out to your international student advisor.



If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. If the application is denied, you will be notified by USCIS in writing.

NOTIFY ISSO as soon as you receive a response.
You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD and the dates are valid. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies. You may work part time while school is in session and full time during official university holidays.